All Charges Against Former Yolo County Housing Authority Director David Serena Dismissed

In late-breaking news yesterday, the Vanguard learned that former executive director of the Yolo County Housing Authority, David Serena, had all charges against him dismissed by a Sonoma County Judge who was brought in to work the case due to concerns about partiality in Yolo County.

The former executive director was charged with 19 felony counts in 2006 including grand theft, insurance fraud and making false insurance claims.

David Serena filed suit against the Yolo County grand jury challenging the recruitment and selection process as being discriminatory against Latinos. However in January of 2007, the lawsuit was thrown out by US District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr.

Serena and his legal team that included James Hammer and Whitney Leigh, produced statistics that showed a 13.5 percent discrepancy between expected and actual Latino composition.

U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. ruled that the three year time period was not long enough to demonstrate substantial underrepresentation of Latinos. Moreover, they did not have direct evidence of intent to discriminate.

Over the past 10 years, Latinos have only been underrepresented by 6.5 percent which would be equivalent of around one juror on average. This was not enough to demonstrate a violation under the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

However, Judge Damrell did say that while he could not consider solely the last three years, he did find the higher disparity in the last three years to be troubling. The Sacramento Bee quotes him as saying “Unaddressed or ignored, this continuing disparity is likely to provide future evidence of systemic underrepresentation of a constitutional dimension.”

In a week when the Yolo County District Attorney’s office has been under fire for alleged ethics violations from one of its top investigators, the dismissal of this high profile case seems to be another stain against the department.

Due to the late nature of this ruling, the Vanguard has not been able to obtain comments from either David Serena or his attorneys, Matt Gonzales and Whitney Leigh from the San Francisco based law firm. Matt Gonzales has recently been named as Ralph Nader’s Vice Presidential candidate; however, he was reportedly in court for this case.

Our opinion has long been that this case should have been handled administratively, not criminally. The Yolo County Board of Supervisors had already dealt with this matter when the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office and Grand Jury stepped in. This ruling would seem to vindicate that view.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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Court Watch

72 comments

  1. Was it dismissed for insufficient evidence with or without an intent to refile or dismissed in the interest of justice? Has the statute of limitations run?

    The DA could refile this case if he wants. Serena may not be out of the woods completely on this.

    It does tend to show the DA overcharges cases, IMHO.

  2. Was it dismissed for insufficient evidence with or without an intent to refile or dismissed in the interest of justice? Has the statute of limitations run?

    The DA could refile this case if he wants. Serena may not be out of the woods completely on this.

    It does tend to show the DA overcharges cases, IMHO.

  3. Was it dismissed for insufficient evidence with or without an intent to refile or dismissed in the interest of justice? Has the statute of limitations run?

    The DA could refile this case if he wants. Serena may not be out of the woods completely on this.

    It does tend to show the DA overcharges cases, IMHO.

  4. Was it dismissed for insufficient evidence with or without an intent to refile or dismissed in the interest of justice? Has the statute of limitations run?

    The DA could refile this case if he wants. Serena may not be out of the woods completely on this.

    It does tend to show the DA overcharges cases, IMHO.

  5. Sorry DPD but confused: were the charges against HIM dropped….and if so what does that have to do with his suit against the grand jury which your story emphasizes? How are they tied legally? thanks!

  6. Sorry DPD but confused: were the charges against HIM dropped….and if so what does that have to do with his suit against the grand jury which your story emphasizes? How are they tied legally? thanks!

  7. Sorry DPD but confused: were the charges against HIM dropped….and if so what does that have to do with his suit against the grand jury which your story emphasizes? How are they tied legally? thanks!

  8. Sorry DPD but confused: were the charges against HIM dropped….and if so what does that have to do with his suit against the grand jury which your story emphasizes? How are they tied legally? thanks!

  9. The charges against him were dismissed.

    I don’t know the answer to anonymous’ questions.

    Hopefully I will today.

    The lawsuit was filed against the grand jury and was dismissed last year. I provided that mainly as background information, but also because I think it is important context.

  10. The charges against him were dismissed.

    I don’t know the answer to anonymous’ questions.

    Hopefully I will today.

    The lawsuit was filed against the grand jury and was dismissed last year. I provided that mainly as background information, but also because I think it is important context.

  11. The charges against him were dismissed.

    I don’t know the answer to anonymous’ questions.

    Hopefully I will today.

    The lawsuit was filed against the grand jury and was dismissed last year. I provided that mainly as background information, but also because I think it is important context.

  12. The charges against him were dismissed.

    I don’t know the answer to anonymous’ questions.

    Hopefully I will today.

    The lawsuit was filed against the grand jury and was dismissed last year. I provided that mainly as background information, but also because I think it is important context.

  13. Are the posters here saying that he should not have been prosecuted…and he did nothing wrong? That is not my impression from the long history of the dept.

    As far as grand juries…..the procss is pretty democratic. The selection is by lottery after a interview with a judge, pretty much a slam dunk if you apply you get into the lottery. There aren’t many latinos who apply. It is pretty time intensive and so attracts a certain retiree type of person. I do think there could be a better way to advertise the ‘job’ so more apply. I have a relative who was on the grand jury….his idea was to have the less represented groups be seated without going through the last lottery part of the process to get better representation, but am sure that would conflict with something…..

  14. Are the posters here saying that he should not have been prosecuted…and he did nothing wrong? That is not my impression from the long history of the dept.

    As far as grand juries…..the procss is pretty democratic. The selection is by lottery after a interview with a judge, pretty much a slam dunk if you apply you get into the lottery. There aren’t many latinos who apply. It is pretty time intensive and so attracts a certain retiree type of person. I do think there could be a better way to advertise the ‘job’ so more apply. I have a relative who was on the grand jury….his idea was to have the less represented groups be seated without going through the last lottery part of the process to get better representation, but am sure that would conflict with something…..

  15. Are the posters here saying that he should not have been prosecuted…and he did nothing wrong? That is not my impression from the long history of the dept.

    As far as grand juries…..the procss is pretty democratic. The selection is by lottery after a interview with a judge, pretty much a slam dunk if you apply you get into the lottery. There aren’t many latinos who apply. It is pretty time intensive and so attracts a certain retiree type of person. I do think there could be a better way to advertise the ‘job’ so more apply. I have a relative who was on the grand jury….his idea was to have the less represented groups be seated without going through the last lottery part of the process to get better representation, but am sure that would conflict with something…..

  16. Are the posters here saying that he should not have been prosecuted…and he did nothing wrong? That is not my impression from the long history of the dept.

    As far as grand juries…..the procss is pretty democratic. The selection is by lottery after a interview with a judge, pretty much a slam dunk if you apply you get into the lottery. There aren’t many latinos who apply. It is pretty time intensive and so attracts a certain retiree type of person. I do think there could be a better way to advertise the ‘job’ so more apply. I have a relative who was on the grand jury….his idea was to have the less represented groups be seated without going through the last lottery part of the process to get better representation, but am sure that would conflict with something…..

  17. This reflects the action of an independent judge. I wonder what would happen in other Yolo cases if the judges acted in a more impartial manner. That may not be a fair comment, but from my limited viewpoint there is not enough separation between the Yolo DA staff and the Yolo Judges.

  18. This reflects the action of an independent judge. I wonder what would happen in other Yolo cases if the judges acted in a more impartial manner. That may not be a fair comment, but from my limited viewpoint there is not enough separation between the Yolo DA staff and the Yolo Judges.

  19. This reflects the action of an independent judge. I wonder what would happen in other Yolo cases if the judges acted in a more impartial manner. That may not be a fair comment, but from my limited viewpoint there is not enough separation between the Yolo DA staff and the Yolo Judges.

  20. This reflects the action of an independent judge. I wonder what would happen in other Yolo cases if the judges acted in a more impartial manner. That may not be a fair comment, but from my limited viewpoint there is not enough separation between the Yolo DA staff and the Yolo Judges.

  21. Yes I’m saying that Yolo County Desgraciados didn’t like a latino running the housing authority and they hounded him from the day he was hired. If you want to know the truth go talk to people in the latino community in this county. Davis has been vindicated by a judge so the real question becomes why were these charges brought and who benefited from David leaving his job. Those people are the ones who should be indicted or at least ashamed of themselves.

  22. Yes I’m saying that Yolo County Desgraciados didn’t like a latino running the housing authority and they hounded him from the day he was hired. If you want to know the truth go talk to people in the latino community in this county. Davis has been vindicated by a judge so the real question becomes why were these charges brought and who benefited from David leaving his job. Those people are the ones who should be indicted or at least ashamed of themselves.

  23. Yes I’m saying that Yolo County Desgraciados didn’t like a latino running the housing authority and they hounded him from the day he was hired. If you want to know the truth go talk to people in the latino community in this county. Davis has been vindicated by a judge so the real question becomes why were these charges brought and who benefited from David leaving his job. Those people are the ones who should be indicted or at least ashamed of themselves.

  24. Yes I’m saying that Yolo County Desgraciados didn’t like a latino running the housing authority and they hounded him from the day he was hired. If you want to know the truth go talk to people in the latino community in this county. Davis has been vindicated by a judge so the real question becomes why were these charges brought and who benefited from David leaving his job. Those people are the ones who should be indicted or at least ashamed of themselves.

  25. I was on the GJ for the ’06-’07 term. I applied and my name went into a hat-they always hold over a few members from the previous years’ GJ so not all seats are available. Hey, I know, you could really get involved and just have black/latino/asian/female seats and just pretend its all up to chance. I gave up a lot of hours because I wanted to serve on the GJ and I will do it again but you must have a very flexible work schedule, work part-time or be retired. If you wear race or gender colored glasses to select people you will have significant problems!!

  26. I was on the GJ for the ’06-’07 term. I applied and my name went into a hat-they always hold over a few members from the previous years’ GJ so not all seats are available. Hey, I know, you could really get involved and just have black/latino/asian/female seats and just pretend its all up to chance. I gave up a lot of hours because I wanted to serve on the GJ and I will do it again but you must have a very flexible work schedule, work part-time or be retired. If you wear race or gender colored glasses to select people you will have significant problems!!

  27. I was on the GJ for the ’06-’07 term. I applied and my name went into a hat-they always hold over a few members from the previous years’ GJ so not all seats are available. Hey, I know, you could really get involved and just have black/latino/asian/female seats and just pretend its all up to chance. I gave up a lot of hours because I wanted to serve on the GJ and I will do it again but you must have a very flexible work schedule, work part-time or be retired. If you wear race or gender colored glasses to select people you will have significant problems!!

  28. I was on the GJ for the ’06-’07 term. I applied and my name went into a hat-they always hold over a few members from the previous years’ GJ so not all seats are available. Hey, I know, you could really get involved and just have black/latino/asian/female seats and just pretend its all up to chance. I gave up a lot of hours because I wanted to serve on the GJ and I will do it again but you must have a very flexible work schedule, work part-time or be retired. If you wear race or gender colored glasses to select people you will have significant problems!!